The Bombay High Court Wednesday refused to stay the provision of new beef ban law which restricts people from procuring beef from outside Maharashtra, but directed the state government not to take any coercive action for its possession for three months in the state.
“No FIRs will be registered for possession of beef. At most, if any illegal slaughter is made, then an FIR shall be registered,” said Justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak.
“We are of the view that the state not having granted reasonable time for disposing of beef products is admittedly unwarranted,” the court said.
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Rapping the government for an “overnight” ban, the court said, “What was legal for 30 years has been declared illegal, even possession and import of beef, inviting serious consequences.”
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions that had challenged the Section 5 D of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995. The law prohibits sale or possession of beef and those found in possession can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000.
“State and police authorities shall not invade the privacy of individuals to find out whether or not they are in possession of beef,” the court said.
During the course of arguments, the court was told that the police could enter restaurants and harass people since it would be difficult to distinguish if it was the meat of buffalo or a bull or bullock being served.
“In the privacy of your home, this kind of intrusion can be expected. Even when you are in a restaurant having buffalo meat, policeman can come and ask what you are eating and harass,” the petitioners challenging the beef ban had argued.
The court Tuesday also allowed the applications of interveners, Akhil Bharat Krushi Gau Seva Sangh and Dr Vinod Kothari, who had opposed the petitions challenging the ban on beef procurement from outside. “Humans have no right over the life of animals,” said the intervening application.
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